Cross Training – Part II

| August 15, 2008
Before I got into Ski Mountaineering, I’d climb in the summer and ski in the winter, but it never occurred to me to combine the two activities.  Once I did, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner as they were such perfect compliments to each other.  Climbing not only gets you outdoors and into the mountains, but helps you develop a head for heights, which if you are a normal, rational human being probably doesn’t come naturally.

Many of the best ski mountaineers in the world are also avid climbers, especially in Europe where they are one in the same.  The cross-over aspect is almost 100%, especially with technical ski mountaineering. 

Rock Climbing

Aside from being an excellent workout, rock climbing is as much (if not more so) a mental game.  Learning how to relax when you are pumped out of your gourd and about to take a long whipper is a learned skill and if you do much rock climbing, you’ll get plenty of chances to practice. In terms of steep skiing, being able to relax (and thus save energy) while staring down 3,000′ of exposure goes a long ways toward your enjoyment of the sport.

Ropes, rocks and mountains. The only thing missing is snow and skis. Joe Skrivan on the Lower Exum, Grand Teton.

Alpine Climbing

Alpine climbing is a lot like Ski Mountaineering… without the skiing.  Walking down a snow covered peak is generally undesirable, but some mountains (or snowpacks) don’t lend themselves to skiing and Alpine climbing is a fun diversion.  The cross-over skills of camping, crevasse rescue and pacing are all important elements of backcountry skiing.

Climbing Mt. Shasta at first light.  It's almost a crime to do this without skis...
Climbing Mt. Shasta at first light. It’s almost a crime to do this without skis…


Tomorrow: My current favorite (and least favorite) off-season activity…

Help support and get 15% off on a set of five Black Diamond Camalot C4 Cams from! Click the photo below…


Category: 16 Conditioning

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

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